Vatican City, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - Remembering the late John Paul II on what would have been his 85th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI today, greeted nearly 25,000 soggy pilgrims on a rain-soaked Roman morning, reminding them of God’s desire to comfort the lowly and the suffering.
At the beginning of his weekly Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father recalled, "our beloved Pope John Paul II would have been 85.”
“We are certain”, he said, “that he is watching us from on high and that he is with us. We wish to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of this great Pope, and for everything he did and suffered."
The Pope then took up the weekly catechesis, begun by his predecessor, commenting on Psalm 112, "Praise the name of the Lord."
Pope Benedict explained that this line of the psalmist "exalts the freedom from slavery" of the people of Israel, and their joy over "serving the Lord in liberty."
He said that the first part of the psalm, "praises the 'name of the Lord,' which in biblical language indicates the person of God Himself, His living and active presence in human history. ... All being and all time, 'from the rising of the sun to its setting,' is involved in a single act of thanksgiving."
The second part of the psalm, the Pope explained, celebrates "the Lord's transcendence. ... The divine gaze takes in all of reality, both earthly and heavenly beings. Yet His eye is not arrogant or aloof like that of some cold-hearted emperor."
Expanding on this point, he pointed out that, "the Lord stoops attentively to our smallness and indigence. ... With His loving gaze and His effective commitment towards the lowest and most wretched of the world, 'He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap.'”
“God bends down,” he said, “to the needy and the suffering to console them. ... The psalmist praises a God very different from us in His greatness, yet at the same time very close to His creatures who are suffering."
Moving to the New Testament, Pope Benedict demonstrated that the psalm foreshadows "the words of Mary in the Magnificat, the canticle of the choice of God, Who 'contemplates the humility of His servant.'”
“In a more radical way than in our psalm,” he concluded, “Mary proclaims that God 'has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree'."
Vatican City, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - At the conclusion of today’s General Audience, Pope Benedict spiritually joined a ceremony, taking place simultaneously in Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain range, to name one of its peaks for the late John Paul II who would have been 85 today.
Speaking in Italian, the Holy Father spoke of the “very significant act taking place” in the region of Abruzzo, and praised “the unforgettable Pope John Paul II, who so loved these splendid mountains and visited them many times.”
“I greet and thank the promoters of such a praiseworthy initiative”, he said, “and I hope that all those who will visit this peak will be encouraged to raise their spirit to God, Whose goodness shines forth in the beauty of creation."
The Pope’s catechesis was summarized for the 25,000 pilgrims in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese.
He likewise gave greetings to visitors in the languages of Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian Russian and Hungarian, and especially saluted Polish people present, noting the late Pope’s birthday, calling him, “the unforgettable Pontiff who is in everyone's hearts.”
“My wishes for all God's blessings on the Poles present today, May God bless you," he said.
Vatican City, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - Among the pilgrims present for Pope Benedict XVI’s Wednesday audience this morning were Bob and Mary Schindler—parents of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman, who succumbed to court ordered starvation in March.
The Schindlers had traveled to Rome to thank the Vatican for its support during their highly publicized battle to save brain-damaged Terri from her husband, who insisted on removing a feeding tube, which provided her with food and water.
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, received the couple yesterday praising their ongoing efforts to defend life.
A statement from the Pontifical council, said that the Schindlers, accompanied by members of the Association of Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, came to thank Cardinal Martino for his efforts to save their daughter's life and to present the Vatican with the statutes of the new association, which was recently created to defend life from conception to natural death.
During the meeting, the cardinal recalled Pope Benedict’s warning that "the freedom to kill is not a real freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being to slavery."
The cardinal said that, "That, obviously, does not only relate to abortion and euthanasia but also to the death penalty, war, terrorism, the destruction or manipulation of human embryos, dying from hunger or the devastation of the environment."
During the tumultuous Schiavo battle, the Vatican had spoken out, comparing the court, which ordered the feeding tube removed, to an executioner who “arbitrarily brought forward” Terri’s death.
Vatican City, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - The long-awaited Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be ready in time for World Youth Day 2005, which will take place in Cologne, Germany.
Sources from the Holy See informed CNA that the Compendium, which will significantly summarize the original Catechism, is in the revision stages and should be ready in time for the coming WYD which Pope Benedict XVI will attend.
The Compendium was requested by the bishops of the world at the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism, and the task was entrusted by Pope John Paul II to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Now, as Pope himself, Benedict XVI will approve its publication.
Sources told CNA the Compendium is “more of a synthesis than a simplification,” that is, “the theological language used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be almost completely retained.”
However, sources said the Compendium “balances this continuity in the language with the simplification of some concepts to make them more accessible to the reader.”
Vatican City, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - The parents of Terri Schiavo, Bob and Mary Schindler, thanked the Holy See for its support in the fight to save the life of their daughter, who died after her husband had her feeding tube removed.
The Schindlers met with Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, at his Vatican office and expressed to him their gratitude for the Holy See’s efforts to help save their daughter.
They also informed the cardinal of a new foundation in honor of their daughter, the Association in Defense of Life. Cardinal Martino encouraged them in their work with the new foundation and he reaffirmed the Holy See’s rejection of “the decision that led to the killing of a woman by one of the most inhumane and cruel means, that of hunger and thirst.”
Cardinal Martino also cited the words of Pope Benedict XVI, as he took possession of the basilica of St. John Lateran: "The freedom to kill is not real freedom but a tyranny that reduces man to slavery."
Irondale, Ala., May 18, 2005 (CNA) - EWTN's news director, Raymond Arroyo, was awarded an honorary doctorate of communications from Franciscan University of Steubenville May 14.
Arroyo, creator and anchor of EWTN's Friday night newsmagazine show, The World Over Live, has reportedly anchored more papal events than anyone in the industry. He met Pope John Paul II and covered papal journeys throughout North and South America, Europe and the Holy Land.
Known for his in-depth interviews, Arroyo has sat across from Mother Teresa, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Mel Gibson, broadcaster Carroll O'Connor and congressional and religious leaders.
Arroyo has also worked for the Associated Press and the political columnist team of Evans and Novak, and was Capitol Hill correspondent for the Family Channel.
He has made numerous appearances on national television programs and has been published in the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and The Financial Times.
Orlando, Fla., May 18, 2005 (CNA) - The United States need a new immigration policy that will protect and address the need of immigrant and U.S-born workers, said Bishop Thomas Wenski in a special column published in the Orlando Sentinel.
The bishop issued his message after federal officials rounded up 66 undocumented workers at a construction site in downtown Orlando last month.
He echoed President George W. Bush’s comment earlier this year that the U.S. immigration system is “outdated” and punishes hard-working people who only want to provide for their families.
These 66 arrests did nothing to enhance national security, which was the pretext used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in arresting them, said the bishop.
“Spending so much of our scarce enforcement resources chasing bricklayers, housekeepers and waiters seeking a better life for their families should no longer be an acceptable application of our security resources in a post 9-11 world,” wrote Bishop Wenski. “There are, after all, real criminals, drug dealers and terrorists to apprehend.”
Illegal immigrant workers do not wish to defy the law, said the bishop. Rather “the law does not provide them with any channels to regularize their status in our country, which needs their labor. They are not so much breaking the law as being broken by the law.”
The bishop expressed his belief that reforms can be implemented that will protect both immigrant and U.S.-born workers if legislators “put aside narrow partisan interests and truly work for the common good.”
In developing the reforms, the government should recognize that immigrants are already part of our communities, the bishop offered.
He pointed out that many immigrants work in important but low-paying jobs that most U.S.-born workers pass over, such as caring for children and the elderly, or cleaning, farming or construction jobs.
“These immigrant workers should be able to seek a decent wage, health care and respect on the job from employers who may freely hire them without having to worry about legal sanctions,” he wrote.
Bishop Wenski said the U.S. bishops are hopeful that Bush will renew the debate over immigration and develop a new policy soon.
Washington D.C., May 18, 2005 (CNA) - One year after a Massachusetts court allowed same-sex marriages, Concerned Women for America (CWA) says it has done nothing less than to mobilize Americans to defend marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
"It [same-sex marriage] has energized the pro-family movement because it has moved the debate beyond theory," Robert Knight, director of CWA's Culture and Family Institute, told the Los Angeles Times.
"And the realization has set in that this is about more than marriage,” Knight said. “It will affect, eventually, every classroom in the country, as textbooks begin to portray two men as a marriage. And it will affect businesses as they are forced to subsidize homosexual relationships.”
Fourteen state constitutional amendments resulted immediately, with several more on the ballot in 2006.
The reaction has also fuelled the debate over judicial nominees in the U.S. Senate, and it will influence the battle for Supreme Court appointments.
The CWA reported that a brief analysis of recent election results shows that concern for marriage among Americans outweighs support for any other issue or candidate.
The average election results for all 18 states that have voted on a constitutional marriage amendment is 70 percent.
The state marriage amendments in all 18 states combined received 12 percent more support on average per state than George W. Bush did for president, and 30 percent more than Sen. John Kerry.
Utica, N.Y., May 18, 2005 (CNA) - U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-New Hartford) withdrew as the commencement speaker at this Saturday's St. Elizabeth College of Nursing ceremony because he learned that pro-life advocates had planned protests over his pro-abortion stance, reported the Utica Oberver-Dispatch.
In 2003, he voted in favor of banning partial-birth abortion, saying he was comfortable with the bill's provision to protect the life of the mother.
The hospital's chief operating officer, Matthew Babcock, would step in as the commencement speaker.
The protest was planned by Dorothy Roback, chairwoman of Oneida County Right to Life. When she heard Boehlert was going to speak, she called her organization's 200 members as well as the Diocese of Syracuse.
Washington D.C., May 18, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced last week that Catholic Relief Services has received over $150 million in donations—the largest amount ever collected in a single appeal—for the areas ravaged by last December’s tsunami.
USCCB president, Bishop William Skylstad said in a statement, that he is “proud of the generosity of our people…American Catholics are unlimited in their generosity to people in need.”
A report, released by Catholic Relief Services May 6th showed that thirteen diocese gave in excess of $1 million. These include the dioceses of Arlington (VA), Baltimore (MD), Boston (MA), Chicago (IL), Galveston-Houston (TX), Los Angeles (CA), Miami (FL), Milwaukee (WI), Philadelphia (PA), Pittsburgh (PA), Seattle (WA), St. Louis (MO) and St. Paul & Minneapolis (MN).
The USCCB said that the donations are being used to rebuild houses, schools and education systems, reestablish, agricultural and fishing infrastructures, and provide trauma counseling, vocational training and distribute food and medicine.
The money should allow the relief agency to continue these projects for the next 5 to 7 years.
Lima, Peru, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - During a conference in Lima at the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Latin America Bishops Conference (CELAM), the Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Guzman Carriquiry, pointed out that “the destiny of Catholicism and the destiny of our peoples in large measure are intertwined, at least for the 21st century.”
In his talk entitled, “50 Years of CELAM: Memory and Destiny,” Professor Carriquiry explained that “if Catholic tradition fades away, if we do not proceed towards an intense work in the faith, if the sense of belonging to the Church does not grow and if missionary zeal is lost, if that Catholic tradition does not become the soul, intelligence, the driving force and horizon of authentic development and growth in humanity, our peoples will suffer and be lost.”
“And if our peoples remain prisoners of marginality and poverty, in periodic cycles of depression and violence, weighed down by the greatest inequalities in the world, Catholicism will suffer and be lost,” he added.
Carriquiry noted that, “Its not for the Church to enter into political debates or technical questions, which is the field of the laity,” because “that is not her vocation and mission.”
Nevertheless, he explained, “Her unique contribution is decisive in the lives of peoples” and consists of bringing individuals to conversion and fostering truth, love, unity and wisdom.
Lima, Peru, May 18, 2005 (CNA) - In message sent to bishops gathered in Lima for the 50th anniversary of the Latin America Bishops Conference, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted them to defend marriage and the Christian family from “ideologies and practices” that undermine their foundations and to promote priestly vocations.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America read the message to the more than 100 bishops and hundreds of invited guests present for the meeting.
In his greeting, the Pope exhorted the bishops to reflect upon “the pastoral care of the family, under assault in our times by grave challenges represented by the different ideologies and practices that undermine the very foundations of marriage and the Christian family.”
“A special emphasis must be placed on family catechesis and on the promotion of a positive and correct vision of marriage and conjugal morality, thus contributing to the formation of genuinely Christian families who stand out for their living of the Gospel values. The Christian family, a true domestic church, should also be the seed bed of abundant and holy vocations,” the Pontiff wrote.
Promotion of vocations
In his message Pope Benedict called on CELAM to give “particular support to the promotion of vocations so that they might be numerous and holy.”
“Looking towards the future, CELAM should continue offering its important contribution and decisive support in this area in order to teach how to discover the signs of the call and to provide follow-up to the response,” he noted.
The Holy Father recalled the history of CELAM, which was instituted by Pope Pius XII for the purpose of “supporting the pastoral work of bishops and at the same time responding to some of the grave problems facing the Church in Latin America.”
“During its half-century of existence, CELAM has offered its service to the episcopates of the countries of Latin America, helping them in an ecclesial spirit to unite efforts in facing the challenges of the Latin American subcontinent and pledging in episcopal communion to provide vigor to what in the course of time has come to be called the new evangelization,” the Pope stated.
He also noted that, “In its mission to promote collaboration between bishops and between bishops and the Holy See and in this way to help collegial fondness to grow, CELAM seeks to increase the spirit of communion, of mutual charity in the internal life of the Church.”
The Pope asked that, “In the very exercise of ministry this unity in charity must shine forth between pastors, between pastors and those consecrated in religious life and between these same persons who live their consecration within the charism proper to their community. In all this, we must keep in mind the model of our Savior who came into this world not to be served, but to serve.”